Changes in Nutrient Composition, Antioxidant Properties, and Enzymes Activities of Snake Tomato (Trichosanthes cucumerina) during Ripening

  • Received : 2016.02.11
  • Accepted : 2016.04.20
  • Published : 2016.06.30


Snake tomato (Trichosanthes cucumerina) has been cultivated and used as a replacement for Lycopersicum esculentum in many Asian and African diets. Matured T. cucumerina fruits were harvested at different ripening stages and separated into coats and pulps for analyses to determine their suitability for use in culinary. They were analyzed for the nutritional composition and antioxidant potential using different biochemical assays [1,1-diphenyl-2-picrylhydrazyl, 2,2'-azinobis(3-ethylbenzothiazoline-6-sulfonic acid) radical scavenging activities, and ferric reducing antioxidant power] and antioxidative enzymes activities. The nutritional composition revealed that T. cucumerina contains over 80% water and is very rich in fiber, thus it can serve as a good natural laxative. The lycopene and ${\beta}$-carotene contents were especially high in the ripe pulp with values of $21.62{\pm}1.22$ and $3.96{\pm}0.14mg$/100 g, respectively. The ascorbic acid content was highest in the pulp of unripe fruit with a value of $56.58{\pm}1.08mg$/100 g and significantly (P<0.05) decreased as ripening progressed. The antioxidant potential of the fruits for the 3 assays showed that unripe pulp> ripe coat> ripe pulp> unripe coat. There were decreases in the antioxidant enzymes (superoxide dismutase, ascorbate peroxidase, and glutathione reductase) activities, with the exception of catalase, as ripening progressed in the fruits. These decreased activities may lead to the softening of the fruit during ripening. Harnessing the antioxidative potential of T. cucumerina in culinary through consumption of the coats and pulps will alleviate food insecurity and help maintain good health among many dwellers in sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia.


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